Property: Britons urged to follow five steps in virtual viewings or risk being scammed
Home Owners: Advice given to sellers on using estate agents
Moving house and viewing properties is still permitted under the latest national lockdown rules. To help reduce contact between people, estate agents are now offering virtual viewings. New research by lettings experts Goodlord has revealed that as many as 32 percent of Britons would be happy to make an offer on a property viewed virtually.
However, when viewing a property virtually, Britons could leave themselves open to being scammed.
Smells, noise and other problems such as damp can’t always be seen via video.
For those about to view a property virtually, Goodlord property expert and former estate agent Costas Frangeskou has recommended following five steps to ensure you don’t run into any obstacles.
Look at the floor plan
If you can’t walk around a property, it’s often difficult to get a feel of it.
The floor plan is often the best way to get an idea of what walking through the property would be like.
Mr Frangeskou recommends asking the estate agent to share a copy of the floor plan with you.
During the virtual viewing, you will then be able to look at the floor plan and get an idea of how the rooms are connected.
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Get a sense of the square footage
Some estate agents use fish-eye photos to make rooms look bigger than they actually are.
So rather than getting suckered in by professional photos, you should try and get an idea of what the space will actually “feel” like.
Mr Frangeskou recommends looking at the floor plan of the property where you should be able to see the square feet or square metre measurements for each room.
Once you have that, find something in your current home that’s approximately 12 inches long (one foot) and measure a room where you currently live.
This will give you an understanding of the new space and allow you to understand how big or small each room really is.
You can also get an idea of whether your furniture is going to fit in the property by looking at the square footage.
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Ask the agent
Virtual viewings don’t allow you to look in cupboards or peer into corners.
If there are storage cupboards or other undisclosed areas, you should make a list of what you would like to see.
Mr Frangeskou said viewers shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions to get an idea of what the space is really like.
Look at photos and videos too
A virtual viewing allows you to see the space as a whole but it may not give you all the details you require.
The property expert recommends asking the agent for 360-degree videos of each room so you can scour them for detail after the virtual viewing.
A ten-minute virtual viewing can also be overwhelming, so you may miss key points.
Mr Frangeskou also recommends using Google Street View or Google Earth which will reveal a lot about your prospective property.
Street View could throw up some red flags about the surrounding area or the exterior of the property.
Google Earth could reveal boundary issues.
Understand virtual contracts
It’s likely that you will be asked to process tenancy paperwork virtually as well if you are viewing properties online.
This reduces contact between individuals and also minimises the paper trail.
Some services such as Open Rent allow you to set up utilities and Wi-Fi before you move into a property.
If this is your first experience of virtual viewings and contracts, Mr Frangeskou recommends speaking to your letting agent in advance so you know what to expect.
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